An important challenge in tissue engineering is the regeneration of functional articular cartilage (AC). In the field, biomimetic hydrogels are being extensively studied as scaffolds that recapitulate microenvironmental features or as mechanical supports for transplanted cells. New advanced hydrogel formulations based on salmon methacrylate gelatin (sGelMA), a cold-adapted biomaterial, are presented in this work. The psychrophilic nature of this biomaterial provides rheological advantages allowing the fabrication of scaffolds with high concentrations of the biopolymer and high mechanical strength, suitable for formulating injectable hydrogels with high mechanical strength for cartilage regeneration. However, highly intricate cell-laden scaffolds derived from highly concentrated sGelMA solutions could be deleterious for cells and scaffold remodeling. On this account, the current study proposes the use of sGelMA supplemented with a mesophilic sacrificial porogenic component. The cytocompatibility of different sGelMA-based formulations is tested through the encapsulation of osteoarthritic chondrocytes (OACs) and stimulated to synthesize extracellular matrix (ECM) components in vitro and in vivo. The sGelMA-derived scaffolds reach high levels of stiffness, and the inclusion of porogens impacts positively the scaffold degradability and molecular diffusion, improved fitness of OACs, increased the expression of cartilage-related genes, increased glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis, and improved remodeling toward cartilage-like tissues. Altogether, these data support the use of sGelMA solutions in combination with mammalian solid gelatin beads for highly injectable formulations for cartilage regeneration, strengthening the importance of the balance between mechanical properties and remodeling capabilities.
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